Our hearts go out to the family of Nick Berg, the American contractor from Philadelphia whose particularly horrific murder in Iraq has us all reeling. Like the American reporter Daniel Pearl, Berg was beheaded by thugs in masks.

I’m sympathetic to the Berg family’s wish to shield the details of their son’s manner of death from the public. But Andrew Sullivan has a point in asking that the footage of Berg being murdered should be seen. ‘Enough with double standards,’ writes Sullivan. ‘The media were absolutely right to show the abuse photos. But they were only part of the story. It’s about time the media gave us all of it, however harrowing it is.’

Sullivan quotes from an email that also supports showing the pictures of Berg’s death.

‘[A]l Qaeda and its murders flaunt this type of cruelty because they believe it will make Americans run out,’ writes Andrew’s perceptive emailer. ‘In fact, it pisses us off and this type of crap needs to be shown to the American people so that we all know what we’re dealing with.’

But did the Abu Ghraib photos really lead to Berg’s death? Lucianne Goldberg thinks so, calling Berg’s beheading the ‘first press-generated beheading. They must be proud.’ I can’t help agreeing’with the caveat that Al Qaeda always wants to kill us, all the time. Abu Ghraib was probably viewed as a public relations opportunity that was just too good to pass up.